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Spill response exercise set for Blake Island near Seattle Oct. 24

Anyone spotting oil skimming vessels, containment boom and other response equipment on the west side of Blake Island in Puget Sound Wednesday Oct. 24 shouldn't be alarmed.

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is testing the ability of six area oil companies to mount a rapid, aggressive and well-coordinated response to a major oil spill in central Puget Sound.

No oil will be discharged during the drill.

Harley Marine Services is sponsoring the multi-party oil spill preparedness drill with its cleanup contractor Marine Spill Response Corp. MSRC is a private, non-profit company supported by oil terminal and shipping company members.

MSRC will deploy four skimming vessels, response boats, aircraft, boom and other equipment as part of the simulation.

Representatives from Ecology will be out on the water to observe and evaluate the Oct. 24 exercise. The drill will test how well the companies can work together to keep oil out of nearby environmental, economic and culturally sensitive areas and clean up the spill.

Under state law, oil tankers and fuel barges, refineries, liquid fuel pipelines, large oil-handling facilities, commercial cargo and fish-processing vessels and passenger ships must have oil spill readiness - or contingency - plans to operate in Washington.

Larger ships and facilities also must practice their spill contingency plans in addition to regularly updating them. By participating in the drill, the companies will fulfill part of Washington's oil-spill preparedness requirements.